Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Jeremy Sarachan
Education: BA (Psychology and Film Studies), University of Rochester, 1991; Certificate of Management Studies, University of Rochester ’93; M.S. Rochester Institute of Technology, Information Technology ’99 (focus on multimedia/ web design and programming)
Current city/state of residence: Rochester, NY
Job Title: Assistant Professor, Communication/Journalism and Program Director, Digital Cultures and Technologies
Employer: St. John Fisher College
Community activities: acting and directing in local theater; former member of improv comedy troupe
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
I transferred from Cornell halfway through my sophomore year in search of smaller classes and a more intellectual atmosphere, and happily found it at U of R. I value the rigor of Constance Penley’s course in Contemporary Film Theory and Richard Gollin’s student-centered seminar in Screen Comedy.
When and how did you choose your major?
I declared film studies as a second major (with psychology) the summer before my junior year. I had been making videos since middle school and wanted to explore films and filmmaking more thoroughly. At that point, I also was considering graduate school in filmmaking.
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I was Business Manager of the Filmmaking Club; a few students, mostly film studies majors, had the opportunity to make films and present them to the campus at the end of each semester. I was Managing Editor of The Norm, which was the U of R humor magazine published from the mid 80’s to mid-90’s. I also acted in several plays, including “Nicholas Nickleby,” an 8-hour play (performed over two evenings) with 40+ student performers. I use the design skills I learned on The Norm to this day and became very active in community and fringe theater after college as a result of my experiences in Todd Theater.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I’m an Assistant Professor of Communication/Journalism and director of the program in Digital Cultures and Technologies at St. John Fisher College. I teach courses in web design, social media, digital storytelling, documentary film, and emergent media theory. After several years in business, I found I missed learning, went to graduate school, and became an academic.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
Film Studies taught me how to examine a piece of art carefully and critically and to see purpose in the smallest details. In any kind of video, art, or design work, this ability to focus and articulate meaning is invaluable.
What advice do you have for current students?
Major in what interests you. It’ll work out. I tell that to my current students, and I’m living proof. Soon after college, I decided that a career in film wasn’t really for me. But then multimedia and the web emerged and I was able to revisit my high school interest in computer programming. Now, my profession requires an understanding of cognitive psychology, user interfaces and visual aesthetics, allowing me to combine my two majors in ways I would have never imagined while I was a student.